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ADVANCE programme

Advancing theory and treatment approaches for males in substance misuse treatment who perpetrate intimate partner violence (Programme ADVANCE)






Dr Gail Gilchrist leads this National Institute of Health Research funded Programme Grant for Applied Research (RP-PG-1214-20009). 

Dr Gilchrist said: “Substance use is a known risk factor for intimate partner violence (IPV), yet most perpetrator interventions do not address substance use. This research brings key stakeholders together fro both the domestic violence and substance use sectors to develop an evidence based intervention to address both substance use and IPV. We believe that providing integrated interventions that address both IPV and substance use in substance use treatment settings will ensure more perpetrators are reached and better outcomes are achieved for perpetrators, survivors and their children, which should in turn reduce costs for the NHS, social and criminal justice services." 

The programme of research brings together researchers, practitioners, services users and policymakers from across King’s, the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, University of Worcester, University of Bristol, University of Manchester, University of York, Rochester Institute of Technology (USA) and RESPECT, the UK membership organisation for work with domestic violence perpetrators, male victims and young people.

ADVANCE programme of research


Domestic violence (DV) includes physical, sexual and psychological harm by a current/ex-partner. In the UK, 30% of women have experienced DV. DV impacts negatively on survivors’ health, costing the NHS £5.5 billion annually. Reducing DV and improving survivors’ mental health is a public health priority. Men in substance misuse treatment are more likely than men in the general population to perpetrate DV. This research will develop and test a group therapy to reduce DV by men receiving substance misuse treatment, that we anticipate will improve current/ex-partners’ depression. 

The research has 5 Workstreams: 

Workstream 1

We will interview male DV perpetrators and their current/ex-partners about their relationships and treatment/support needs to understand what kinds of treatment might be helpful. Existing literature will be summarised to establish how substance misuse may play a role in DV. 

Workstream 2

While therapies for perpetrators exist, few target men in substance misuse treatment. We will review other studies to determine what type of treatment reduces DV and for whom treatment works. 

Workstream 3

A group of experts and lay people (including survivors and perpetrators) will use findings from earlier workstreams to develop a staff training package and group therapy for men in substance misuse treatment. 

Workstream 4

The group therapy developed will be tested with men in substance misuse treatment in three services to demonstrate whether it is possible to recruit men and their current/ex partners, and deliver a group therapy to male perpetrators in substance misuse treatment. We will assess whether they find the therapy acceptable, attend the sessions, can be retained in the research and are willing to be followed-up. We will offer support to their current/ex-partners and evaluate whether they take up this offer of support. We will describe how the group therapy is delivered in practice before we undertake a large experimental study (trial). 

Workstream 5

If it proves possible to deliver the therapy in substance misuse treatment, we will conduct a large trial in more services to evaluate whether the group therapy results in improved mental health for ex/current partners of the men receiving the group therapy, and is better value for money, than usual care (fortnightly individual therapy session with a key worker). We anticipate that if DV reduces, ex/current partners’ depressive symptoms will improve. Support will be offered to all current/ex-partners, irrespective of perpetrator’s treatment. Depressive symptoms, frequency of DV, quality of life and feeling safe (survivors only) will be assessed after one year among perpetrators and victims to measure any changes. 

Projected outputs/dissemination

Local Learning Alliance (LA) of key stakeholders in the West Midlands and London will meet to develop local cross-sector solutions to this complex problem, building on knowledge transferred from ADVANCE into practice.  

ADVANCE programme research team

KCLKing's College London

UoWUniversity of Worcester

UoBUniversity of Bristol

UoMManchester University


University of York


RespectRESPECT, the UK membership organisation for work with domestic violence perpetrators, male victims and young people

  • Jo Todd (Chief Executive Officer) – Co-applicant
  • Sara Kirkpatrick (Services Development Manager)


Rochester Institute of Technology




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